VDV Residence

Zonhoven, Belgium


Designed in 1999, this house is a tribute to local brick as a building material. This house seems to be sculpted out of terracotta, with chunks cut out of the mass revealing the same material.

The use of a proper traditional red brick could also be considered as an attempt to ‘fit in’ with the neighbours in this typical suburban street in a small Flanders’ village. But if the choice of the external material is befitting for the single family home, the geometry and complexity of the internal layouts and the choice of the internal surfaces do not.

The house occupies two plots in its’ width and consists of two stacked volumes that have been moved slightly off centre from each other. The plan is organised around two axis that form a cross in plan; one starts from the entrance hall and allows a view through the whole house to the other side of the site whilst the second axis runs back to front between the two staircases and connects the formal rooms at the front with the informal family rooms at the back.

As the street elevation is almost completely closed off to the street, natural light is pulled into the plan via one large window and several patios. The house is interspersed with these ‘cours anglaises’ and the focus on intimacy and privacy is consciously pursued. Only the rear elevation opens up fully to the landscape beyond. The organisation of the house is otherwise quite traditional – living on the ground floor and sleeping on the upper floor, accentuating the circulation areas with double height ceilings and indirect natural light. The palette of materials is extremely limited but rich in pattern, colour and texture. The roughness of the brick, that is experienced inside and out, completes the smoothness of travertine and walnut, both used for floors, walls, built in furniture.

The separation from what remains ‘outside’ is consciously pursued reinforce the feeling of this house, of which only the rear elevation openes up almost completely to the landscape beyond. The organisation of the house is otherwise quite traditional – living on the ground floor and sleeping on the upper floor. With all the circulation areas double height and introverted, focused on intimacy and privacy, the separation from what remains ‘outside’ is consciously pursued and reiterated in the decision to create inside some patios as places of private meditation, and at the same time a source of light and colour for the nearby spaces.


Tendance Déco, September 2010


Alberto Piovano

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